Since residential solar systems help safeguard the environment, state and federal governments provide tax incentives…
Using solar panels to power your home doesn’t require more maintenance than other energy generation systems. However, you can’t expect them to work properly and produce solar energy for your home if dust and debris block the sunlight as they accumulate on the surface of the photovoltaic cells. For this reason, regular residential solar panel cleaning is crucial to ensure they remain productive.
Although solar panels typically come with a production warranty of around 25 to 30 years, they lose their performance capacity over time, just like any other device. Moreover, research shows that in some parts of the United States, soiling decreases solar panel annual electricity output by up to 7%. However, solar panels with high-quality modules that get regular maintenance only lose about 0.5% of their capacity every year.
What Are the Main Types of Solar Panel Maintenance Services?
Solar power system maintenance generally involves an annual inspection and solar panel cleaning. During a solar panel inspection, someone from your solar panel installer will come to your home and carry out visual checks to ensure that everything in your system is working.
Alternatively, solar panel cleaning is another maintenance service that should be performed regularly. Since dirty solar panels can cost you as much as 30% of your system’s solar energy production, you’ll want to keep your system clean to ensure that your panels get the optimal amount of sunlight.
What Are the Contaminants and Debris That Affect Solar Panel Efficiency?
Dust and Dirt
Do you live near an airport, highway, farmlands, or areas prone to wildfire smog, and dust pollution? When dust builds upon the surface of your solar panels, it reduces your system’s ability to generate power. Unless you’re willing to deal with rising utility bills, it’s best to eliminate the dust, soot, and other particulates from your solar panels.
You may have to regularly deal with bird droppings if you live in a woody area with plenty of deciduous trees. Heavily concentrated bird droppings are even more detrimental to your power system than a film of dust that settles on your panels because they block the sunlight and are acidic.
Unless you get your solar panels cleaned, the droppings will reduce your system’s overall power production and cause lasting damage by wearing away at your solar panels’ surfaces. If your solar array includes a string inverter or microinverters attached to each separate panel, you’ll be able to identify areas covered with droppings because the inverter stops showing current flow.
Did you know that water-bound insects flock to solar panels because they mistake the panels’ reflective surface for a source of water? For this reason, buildings with solar panels have a higher concentration of insects than those without solar panels. With these bugs resting, laying eggs, and dying on your panels, you’re bound to deal with insect debris – especially during hatching seasons.
Unfortunately, insect debris causes damage to your solar panels. Don’t let a heavy insect infestation reduce your system’s electrical efficiency. In addition to ensuring regular solar panel cleaning, experts recommend adding white grids to the panels to minimize this insect behavior.
Flowers and trees reproduce by releasing pollen into the air. While some pollen lands in suitable places for new growths, most of them settle across cars, buildings, roofs, and solar panels. Additionally, pollination agents such as insects and birds that carry pollen may drop some of it on the panels as these agents pass over your power system.
You can check weather forecasts and online resources to know how much pollen you’re expected to get. If you’re lucky, the wind blows away the pollen before rain falls on it and causes it to become sticky or hard. However, if you’re not, the hard and sticky pollen can cause your panels to absorb less sunlight and generate less electricity.
How much electricity you lose largely depends on how dirty your panels are. If you or any member of your household is allergic to pollen, you’ll want to call a trusted company to clean your system right away.
In areas with plenty of moisture, solar panels can slowly develop organic growth such as mold, moss, algae, mildew, and lichen that create hot spots and reduce your system’s overall power output. When organic growth becomes severe and spreads inside your system’s electric elements, it can lead to operational issues.
When the cooler days hit, the leaves on trees cover your roof and fill your gutters. They may look pretty, but they block the sunlight when they layer over your residential solar panels. As the fallen leaves reduce your system’s solar power production, your utility bills rack up.
Each solar panel comprises photovoltaic (PV) cells that are wired in series. Moreover, series circuits wire your solar panels together and connect them to the inverter. For this reason, a single large leaf that completely covers just one of your solar panels’ PV cells can reduce the efficiency of the rest of the panels in your solar array.
Your system’s energy output will drop if more leaves build up on your solar panels. Although DIY solar panel cleaning seems practical, you may end up causing damage to the surface of your solar panels. When this happens, you’ll invalidate the warranty that may still be in effect due to rough handling.
Thick Layers of Snow and Ice
Even with the loss of daylight hours, your solar panels won’t stop working in winter weather. Since snow reflects additional sunlight into the panels, it increases the amount of energy your power system generates on any given day. However, when a thick layer of snow completely covers your solar panels, it blocks sunlight and stops electricity production.
When sunlight melts the snow and the snow freezes back into ice, it becomes even more difficult to remove. Using ice scrapers and a specialized solar panel snow rake to clean the panels yourself may cause you to scratch or damage their solar cells. For this reason, hiring a professional to clean your solar panels is necessary after a heavy snowfall.
Looking for an Expert in Residential Solar Panel Cleaning?
At SuperGreen Solutions, we understand that it’s hard to find the right green technology solutions. Our team of experts is here to help you on your path to sustainability. Contact us today to learn more!
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